What is a concussion and how does it affect the body and the brain?
Your brain is the most important organ in your body because it controls and coordinates all the functions of the body, your heart and circulation, your breathing, movement, digestion and balance.A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or body that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull. The impact does not have to be hard to compromise how well your brain is able to control your body.
Children and adolescents are more vulnerable because of their brains are still developing. Your neuromuscluoskeletal structures develop well into your mid 20’s. If you are hurt during this time, whether it’s a motor vehicle accident, sports injury or even slipping on ice, there is a higher risk of damage because your structures are still maturing.
Any head injury, no matter how small, needs to be evaluated by an appropriate head and spine specialist such as a chiropractor or a neurologist for possible concussion signs and symptoms. In fact we recommend everyone get a pre-injury baseline neurological examination as part of their training regimen. Not only will this identify areas to focus on during training but you also have a valuable reference point if ever there is a trauma.
Symptoms may be immediate or may take several hours or days to develop.
- Headaches or head pressure
- Mental Confusion or being foggy headed
- Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
- Sensory disturbances like
- Ringing in the ears
- Double vision
- Pupils are not the same size
- Problems with focus and concentration
- Dizziness or “seeing stars”
- Nausea, Vomiting
- Slurred speech
In kids, they don’t usually say they have pain so we need to be observing their behaviour.
- Appearing dazed, listless and tiring easily
- Irritability and crankiness
- Loss of balance and unsteady walking
- Crying excessively
- Change in eating or sleeping patterns
- Lack of interest in favorite toys
The importance of pulling a child immediately out of the game if one occurs, and what happens after?
When a concussion takes place, the levels of various chemicals in the brain are changed because of the inflammation from trauma. It takes at least one week for the chemical levels in the brain to return to normal even with mild head trauma that shows little to no symptoms. During recovery you want to limit any activity that could jolt the body and reinjure the brain, and you should not return to your sport until you receive clearance from a spinal specialist such as a chiropractor or neurologist. If you return before your brain and body are ready, you risk reinjuring yourself which can cause a second impact brain swelling that could be potentially fatal.
How long should a child sustain from playing sports and what is involved in the healing process?
Recovery fully from a concussion is highly variable and depends on both the nature of the injury and the patient involved. Keep your child out of the game until you get clearance from your spinal health care provider, be it your chiropractor or a neurologist. They will be the best to identify when you can have your child re-enter the game.
While you are recovering, you may want to avoid any activities that hyperstimulate the brain, such as video games, loud music, TV’s and computers. If you are unable to do an electronic cleanse, keep the volume down and protect your child’s eyes by wear sunglasses to reduce input from the bright screens. In fact your child may benefit from wearing sunglasses both indoors and outdoors to limit lights stimulating the brain.